Football Gamers Gain Roster Flexibility with New Cornerback Rule
By Glenn Guzzo
Alert to the ways National Football League tactics evolve and to the desires of gamers to play ever more realistically, Strat-O-Matic continues to tweak its rules and ratings in its highly popular Pro Football game, including a new option this season.
Building on a ratings revision introduced last year, SOM now is permitting gamers to use highly rated slot cornerbacks at the outside cornerback positions, with reduced ratings.
Last year, for the 2017 NFL season, the game company began giving some sub cornerbacks higher ratings than the starters, an unprecedented departure from custom. That came with a caution: Such players were limited to nickel-back/slot cornerback roles covering third wide receivers.
That change recognized that three-wide-receiver formations had become the norm in the NFL and, without slot cornerbacks who could cover 30-to-50-catch receivers, defenses were at a significant disadvantage. Offensive play callers too easily could exploit a 0-rated defender with a capable receiver.
The change also recognized that effective slot cornerbacks, some rated 4, 5 or even 6, had achieved their success against opponents’ third- and fourth-best wide receivers, and that, in fact, most men effective as slot cornerbacks had failed as outside cornerbacks one-one-one in isolation against more athletic, physical receivers. Hence, the rule limiting highly rated subs to nickel and dime defensive formations.
Gamers cheered that rule, but also wanted roster flexibility, saying that a slot cornerback should be able to line up outside, even if at reduced effectiveness. So, SOM has adapted again, with a new rule allowing just that. The catch, so to speak: Reduce the rating of such a sub defensive backs by two when he plays outside.
Here is the new rule wording, which is expected to be included on the roster sheet with the 2018 Pro Football cards (and in the rules file included with the latest version of the Windows game):
PLAYING A “CB” OR “Defensive Back” AT LEFT CORNERBACK OR RIGHT CORNERBACK
Players who are rated at “CB” are used when an additional defensive back is needed to fill out a formation. Typically they are called nickelbacks or slot cornerbacks. They are not rated to play Left Cornerback (LCB) or Right Cornerback (RCB) as they did not primarily play those positions. However, they can be used as substitutes in those positions with the following adjustment: If the CB is rated as a “6” defensively then count him as a “4” defensively when playing LCB or RCB. All other CB’s should be counted as a “0” defensively when playing LCB or RCB. Note that this rule also applies to those players rated as “Defensive Back” when positioned at LCB or RCB. IMPORTANT: This rule only applies to the 2017 and later NFL season when Strat-O-Matic started rating CB’s specifically as slot cornerbacks.
In this way, the sub cornerback/defensive back now rated 4 or 5 will be a 0 outside, as he probably would have been in that role. The only benefit of playing the man there is roster flexibility. The occasional slot cornerback rated 6 will have rated value as a 4.